Making a point succinctly is far better than being wordy especially when it comes to politics. I have long contended that most Americans have a political attention span of between 30 and 120 seconds (skewing heavily toward the low end of that spectrum). Over the years I have often discussed how much more difficult and time consuming it is to refute a lie than to tell one. The other day I heard someone sum up the situation and dilemma in a single sentence. That is today’s lesson. Let’s explore.
One of the books on my buy and read list is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years In Power. When I discovered he was doing a Book TV segment on C-SPAN I had to record it for future viewing. During the Q&A session he began the answer to a question with one sentence that said so much, “When people are stupid they don’t have to do any research.” Wow! That said a lot in eleven words!
Albeit with much greater success, Ta-Nehisi like me tries to illustrate wrongs and refute falsehoods by writing about them. Just to say someone is incorrect or lied is insufficient; you have to prove it. Getting the empirical data to support your claim takes time, effort and work. More often than not I spend more time researching an article than writing it. In the case of a book you can simply multiple the times by a large number; the ratio stays basically the same. (I recently finished the first draft of my first political book which I hope to release in late 2017 or more likely early 2018.)
A great recent example of the large amount of research it takes to put out a relatively short article is Paul Krugman’s New York Times op-ed entitled Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies. Dr. Krugman dispels ten frequent Trump lies about economics. In doing so he uses various charts and authoritative pieces of research to back up his points. That took a lot of time to gather! As a Nobel winning professor he probably has a small cadre of graduate students to call upon to assist him in his quest. I doubt Coates does and I know I certainly don’t.
A few days after the New York Times ran Krugman’s piece I wrote an entire op-ed based on only the first lie he disproved. That is how complex a supposedly simple piece is. It also illustrates how cumbersome it is to disprove a lie (which Trump not only keeps repeating but defended using with the “many people” excuse). Why do many people believe it? Because it reinforces their prejudice and/or they simply believe an oft repeated lie lacking the time and/or ability to research it and discover that it is untrue.
Like me, Coates can get long winded in an answer. He concluded the answer to the question with, “This is how evil wins.” If we keep everything the same that is exactly what happens. We collectively need to change the situation by being active within our comfort zones and talents. For Coates and I that means we need to continue to write and speak. For others it may mean demonstrations. For some it means running for office. That very much includes local office including School Boards! For all of us it means staying informed and not being afraid to speak out!
Another huge part of the solution is something Coates came back to time and time again in his talk – we need more people! Being stupid is easy but it doesn’t make for a more perfect union.
This article was written well in advance of publishing to accommodate my travel schedule,
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